The hot days of summer are here. Throughout the country, thousands of employees who work outdoors face the potential dangers associated with overexposure to heat. Factors such as working in direct sunlight, high temperature and humidity, physical exertion and lack of sufficient water intake can lead to heat stress.
During the warm season, it is important to understand that exposure to heat can cause serious illness or death. OSHA encourages employers and employees to take advantage of their many free resources that offer advice on how to stay healthy while working outside.
Exposure to heat can cause heat cramps and rashes. The most serious heat-related disorders are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Symptoms include confusion; irrational behavior; loss of consciousness; hot, dry skin; and abnormally high body temperature. Drinking cool water, reducing physical exertion, wearing appropriate clothing and regular rest periods in a cool recovery area can lessen the effects of working in summer heat.
Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat is a fact sheet explaining heat stress and how it can be prevented. The fact sheet Working Outdoors in Warm Climates provides recommendations on how to protect employees from exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) and offers information on insect-caused illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. Employers and employees will find more practical tips for guarding against UV radiation in Protecting Yourself in the Sun, a pocket-sized card addressing skin cancer, describing its varied forms, and suggesting ways to block UV rays.
These outdoor work-related publications and others are free and can be downloaded from the Publications page on OSHA’s Web site or ordered from the publications office at 202-693-1888. More information can be found on the Web sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).